Dorothy Savarese
President and CEO, The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank

When Dorothy Savarese says, without a trace of hyperbole, "I now have the perfect job," it's hard not to believe her. And it isn't just because her relatively small Massachusetts bank — $2.5 billion in assets — regularly outperforms its much larger competitors.

She is a tireless community leader and volunteer, serving a wealth of organizations, not just regionally but nationally. One is the American Bankers Association, for which she was recently nominated as vice chairman of the board of directors.

She applies that same sense of outreach to the 432 employees she leads. Borrowing a concept from architectural schools, she conducted a charette at her bank, bringing together 50 employees from all levels to investigate ways of streamlining customer interactions. "One longtime employee noted it was the best bank meeting she had ever attended," Savarese says.

The charette process — which is a period of intense study on a particular topic and which Savarese used successfully in her prior career as a consultant — included regional follow-up meetings, a flurry of emails and a dedication to monitoring progress. "We discover things that we would not have known about if we were just sitting in a room brainstorming," she says. Her team found, for example, that customers often had to produce the same information more than once if they were opening multiple accounts. Some employees had developed effective ways to avoid this duplication, but it had not been shared companywide. Eliminating that sort of negative customer experience is a key goal of the charette, and will continue to be. The process began in March 2014 and is still ongoing. "It is being built into how we do business," Savarese says.

Savarese's dynamic approach has earned her plenty of recognition in the industry. In October 2013 she was a keynote speaker at a community banking conference in St. Louis, opened by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

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